April 19, 2012
308 Prince Street #140 St. Paul, MN | www.tanpoporestaurant.com
Being Japanese and moving to the Twin Cities from Hawaii, it was only natural that I had a strong desire to seek out the best places in town to have Japanese food. Tanpopo had first come up during my search while on a scouting trip in the city looking at prospective apartments. That trip was a bit of a whirlwind so we didn’t have the chance to check it out. We did, however, come by when we moved up and had dinner here on one of our first nights in the city. It was a surprising experience to find well made Japanese food so far from home.
Although I do not get to Tanpopo as often as I’d like, we did finally make it back there about a month ago. We specifically came to check out the ramen special of the night, as my wife and I have both been craving a nice hot bowl of ramen during these colder months. The restaurant is located in downtown St. Paul and occupies a large, loft-like space. We sat down to a table in the center of the dining room and ordered the following items:
Although Tanpopo is by no means a sushi restaurant, they do feature a few rolls from time to time. The sushi here is well constructed with nicely seasoned rice.
A favorite appetizer of ours, when we saw agedashi tofu on the happy hour menu we had to try it. Cubes of warm, deep fried tofu are presented in a dish full of flavorful dashi broth. The saltiness of the broth and bonito flakes adds great flavor to the simple tofu, which is crispy on the outside and soft within.
For my meal I opted for the teishoku, or set meal, featuring tonkatsu. Think slices of pork are battered in panko and deep fried, dressed in a traditional tonkatsu sauce. The set includes various sides like salad and miso soup to complete the meal.
Our search for a great bowl of ramen in the Twin Cities has unfortunately come up short, and while Tanpopo’s version is better than others we’ve had here, it still didn’t satisfy our craving. The broth is light and salty but not as rich or deep in flavor as we were looking for.
A fairly classic presentation of nabeyaki udon, this bowl is packed with noodles, shrimp tempura, mushrooms, and fishcake. The only missing element was chicken which is normally presented in nabeyaki udon. Despite this minor missing ingredient, the broth is well flavored and the noodles are thick and chewy, just as they should be.
Overall Tanpopo offers a consistent experience in Japanese cuisine. The chef, who hails from Japan, has certainly carved out a niche here in the Twin Cities, offering classically prepared noodles and teishoku meals. While unable to satisfy our craving for a great bowl of ramen, Tanpopo will certainly remain in our restaurant rotation for its other strong offerings.
308 Prince Street #140
St. Paul, MN 55101
Tagged with: Japanese • Minnesota • Saint Paul • St. Paul